How the Legacy of Chester County Guitarist Jim Croce Lives On
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will formally mark the barn where the musician wrote his songs.
Sitting on my bedroom dresser is an old 45 from 1973, perched on a picture-frame pedestal. Its center hole is filled with a clock, its big and little hands stretching across the grooved vinyl. The label reads: “TIME IN A BOTTLE,” JIM CROCE.
The talented Chester County resident would die that same year, making the words he sang on that tune so hauntingly poignant: “If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do, is to save every day until eternity passes away, just to spend them with you.”
The song would become a No. 1 single after Croce’s sudden death at the age of 30. He wrote it while living in a rented farmhouse overlooking the Brandywine River in the small village of Lyndell. He and his wife, Ingrid, lived there from 1970 to 1972. For the couple, it was a period of musical creativity, hootenannies, and entertaining famous houseguests like James Taylor and Arlo Guthrie.
Though the tragic plane crash that took Croce’s life occurred two years before I was born, I’ve always felt a strong connection to Croce and his music. We both lived in Drexel Hill and attended Villanova University. And, like Croce, I moved to Chester County in my mid 20s. The stories his songs tell touch something deep within me.
Apparently, I’m not the only one. Nearly five decades after his death, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission recently announced that it will formally recognize Croce’s legacy. One of those blue historical markers is set to be placed near the Lyndell farmhouse where Croce penned so many of his songs, including “Operator,” “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and “Photographs and Memories.” Another, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” has introduced Croce to a new generation via the hit Netflix series Stranger Things.
Croce had 30 years here on earth. Passing by that farmhouse today, the words he once sang there echo through time—a reminder to all of us to cherish the moment.
But there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them.
Like Jim Croce, Michael T. Dolan also plays guitar—albeit rather poorly. He’s a much better writer. Visit his website at www.michaeltdolan.com.